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Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by how many the procurement staff establishment at the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency is to be reduced; and what savings she estimates this will produce. 
Jane Kennedy: The function and structure of the National Health Service Purchasing and Supply Agency (NHS PASA) has been subject to a review as part of the supply chain excellence programme (SCEP)encompassing all Department of Health and NHS purchasing and supply activity. This review was undertaken by the commercial directorate and the output has been integrated into the arm's length body review process and ratified as part of the department wide programme.
The result is that the NHS PASA has refocused an increased level of resource on procurement and procurement support operations, while maintaining an establishment unchanged at 340.8 whole-time equivalent.
While no changes have been made to the establishment, the whole organisation has been subject to radical changes in structure, resource focus and work processes. The result is a significant increase in savings available to the NHSincluding a target of £250 million per annum savings arising from the national contracting programme element of SCEP.
Caroline Flint: The available information, taken from the Health Survey for England, is shown in the table. No specific figures are available for Kingston and Surbiton, but these areas are included in the figure for London.
|Body mass index|
|London Government office region|
|Overweight including obese||30.5||30.8|
|Overweight including obese||28.9||27.6|
|Number of children surveyed|
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the new regional oxygen supply service to be introduced; whether its start date has been delayed; and if she will make a statement. 
Jane Kennedy: The new home oxygen service is to be introduced from 1 February 2006. Legal action prevented the Department from signing contracts to allow the service to be introduced from 1 October 2005 as intended. We consulted the national health service, pharmacist representatives and the new service contractors on the earliest possible date for introducing the new service. All agreed that it should be 1 February 2006 to avoid placing undue pressures on the home oxygen service when patient demand is at its peak in the months of December and January.
|Finished admission episodes|
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will make a statement on the Government's policy on the future of (a) dispensing rural pharmacies and (b) community pharmacies; 
Jane Kennedy: We are determined to improve access to, and the choice of, pharmacy services for patients. Community pharmacies provide a highly valued service and we are committed to their on-going development and integration in the national health service within the structure of the new contractual framework introduced from April 2005. We wish to encourage innovation and excellence in service provision while at the same time recognising the vital role community pharmacies play, particularly in poorer and rural areas.
We wish to ensure that patients are able to access the same standard of services in rural areas. Support has been available nationally through the essential small pharmacy scheme. This has, subject to certain conditions, provided a guaranteed minimum income to support a pharmacy which might otherwise be unviable.
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From 1 April 2006, arrangements will change so that pharmacies within the scheme currently can either contract locally, again subject to conditions, with their NHS primary care trust for the provision of their services and continue to receive additional financial support or choose to be within the general provisions and payment system of the new contractual framework.
Caroline Flint [holding answer 20 October 2005]: Getting Ahead of the Curve", the infectious disease strategy published by the Chief Medical Officer in January 2002 made clear our intention of reviewing the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
In preparation for the review, the Department has asked the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to consider how public health practitioners might make more effective use of the powers currently provided by the 1984 Act, and what difficulties practitioners find with the current powers and what changes might be desirable. We expect to receive the results of the first instalment of
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the HPA's work shortly, and will want to consider with the HPA at that stage when and in what form it would be appropriate to publish the results of its work.
We will decide, in the light of work by the HPA and of other developments such as the World Health Organisation's adoption of new international health regulations, how to take the review forward. Our aim will be to consider whether and how the law could be modernised to ensure protection of the public while respecting the rights of the individual. If it seems that changes to the law would be desirable, we shall of course want to consult those affected before proceeding.
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